Evaluation of the For Baby's Sake Programme

Therapist talking with a married couple, photo by Yuri Arcurs peopleimages/Adobe Stock

Photo by Yuri Arcurs peopleimages.com/Adobe Stock

What is the issue?

Domestic abuse (DA) is a type of abuse in a personal relationship. It can include physical violence, but also other forms of harmful behaviour, such as sexual, economic, and psychological abuse. Recent statistics reveal a concerning trend: an estimated 2.1 million people experienced domestic abuse in England and Wales in March 2023. Women are most at risk of experiencing domestic abuse, and it can also start or worsen during pregnancy. In the UK, one in three pregnant women experience domestic abuse, as do one in five children. Research has shown that domestic abuse can have adverse effects on both physical and mental health and can hinder children's development.

In response to these risks, the For Baby’s Sake programme was developed by the For Baby’s Sake Trust. The programme aims to break the cycle of domestic abuse and give babies the best start in life. It addresses the limitations of existing programmes and is a pioneer by offering whole-family trauma-informed therapeutic support to both expectant parents. The programme is already promising in its early stages, with studies showing that its delivery is feasible and produces positive changes for parents and their babies. However, the effectiveness of For Baby's Sake is yet to be tested through robust evaluation.

How are we helping?

To help establish what works to prevent domestic abuse and protect children, RAND Europe is a part of the first stage of Foundations – What Works Centre for Children and Families REACH (Research Effective Approaches for Children) plan. We investigate For Baby’s Sake Theory of Change in a pilot context and explore the viability of a full-scale impact evaluation.

The project is a pilot randomised controlled trial (RCT). An RCT is a type of evaluation where participants are randomly assigned to either a treatment group or a control group, allowing researchers to determine the effectiveness of an intervention by comparing outcomes between the two groups. It covers multiple programme sites and uses families as the unit of randomisation. We employ a mixed-method design for the implementation and process evaluation (IPE), which addresses the following questions:

  1. Does the programme work, and if so, does it work as intended? How does it work differently in different conditions?
  2. How can the intervention itself and its further evaluations be improved?
  3. Does the intervention deliver value for money?

RAND’s approach is centred around the principles of collaboration, commitment to Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Equity (EDIE), optimal data collection, and trauma-informed research. During the research period, RAND will undertake desk-based research and deep-dives into secondary data, collect inputs from local practitioners and professionals regarding the theory of change, interview local authority representatives, and conduct online surveys with the project participants. This vast and varied data collection will help answer the above research questions effectively, developing useful reports that shed light on the efficacy and impact of the programme.

The evaluation will also be informed by inputs from beneficiaries and people with lived experience of abuse (Beneficiary Advisory Group), as well as practitioners (Professionals Advisory Group), which will refine and inform the process and findings of the study.